As the season winds down for the wedding venue, we continue to get ready for the winter.
Last summer, we had such a good time raising pigs that we have decided to try some more out over the winter. Given the winter season, we’re going to try to raise them close to the house, but, we’re going to try to keep them moving around within the 1 acre paddock near the house to help them till up all the weeds in there and get the soil ready for the spring. The key elements for us are mobility, proximity and ease, while we think the key elements for the pigs are warmth and access to lots of food and water!
To start out, we’re taking into account the size of the pigs. One of the pigs is much older and larger and will probably eat a lot more as well as dominate the others. We definitely want the little pigs getting plenty of access to food; so, we start out with a low gate, under which only the little pigs can fit.
Once inside, the feeding bins are screwed to wooden boards, so that, when the pigs step on the boards, they can’t flip the food over.
The feeding area for the larger pig is much simpler, since she will not have much competition for food until she’s already had her fill. Again, the boards will keep her from flipping her food.
Now, we add a tarp over the roof (we also ended up wrapping one around the back and sides) to keep the food nice and dry through all the weather. One of the key parts of these feeding pens is their accessibility and mobility. I can stand outside the pen and pour food in if the pigs are really hungry, and we can also move the pens around the perimeter of the entire paddock to make sure the pigs spend their time in different areas, continuously prepping the soil.
The shed is definitely a cadillac for hogs. We’ve used the shed mostly for llamas and goats, but, since it’s cold, we’re letting the pigs live the good life for the winter. It’s very deep in there, so they’ll be well shielded from any wind, rain or snow. Also, we piled up horse bedding and a good bit of hay in there so they’ll have plenty of stuff to snuggle up in. We often see the 4 smaller pigs cuddling up close together on the right, while the larger sow is by herself on the left – all appearing very relaxed.
Here are most of the pigs exploring their new home. I will never forget the loud cracks and crunches I heard when the pigs discovered all of the walnuts lying throughout the pen. They were loving them!
They will rotate throughout this paddock during much of the winter. In early spring, though, they’ll spend time down in the cattle barn, helping to aerate the compost we’ll be developing down there. More on the pigs and the cattle barn soon!